By Russ Levanway, CEO
There’s nothing like the sense of accomplishment that comes with having helped a client in a truly meaningful way when there’s mutual gratitude for a job well done. We’ve come to learn that our clients see us not just as a company that fixes their computers, but as a company that enhances their productivity and thereby enriches their lives and the lives of those they serve.
But let me be clear: there have been quite a few times when clients have told us what we needed to do better. And we wouldn’t be the company we are today without that feedback.
I’m reminded of a period of time a few years ago when clients were reporting that we didn’t know their systems well; that we weren’t as familiar as we should have been with what they did on a daily basis and how their technology fits into their processes.
On our end, it was a time of intense growth; after an acquisition, our client roster swelled and crossed a significant threshold. Previously, we had operated in a dispatch model wherein our whole technical team served all of our clients. With just 100 clients, most of our technicians knew something about each of them, but when the roster grew to 140, our technicians couldn’t keep all that information in their heads anymore and balls started dropping.
We certainly relied on documentation to a point, but we had also lost the relationship piece. No longer was our work about helping individual people in the companies we served, instead, the clientele spike created a distance that led to a lack of ownership. Put simply, we had outgrown the model we had previously used to support our clients.
Feedback into Action
We lost some clients. “It’s hard to put our finger on it,” they’d said, “but your technicians don’t seem to understand what we do anymore.” Several clients gave us very specific, pointed feedback, and we listened, seeking to build a structure that better addressed their unmet needs. One tactic we took was to break our team into small groups: one focused on healthcare clients, two on professional services, two on small businesses, etc. Each group, or pod, included three to seven people to serve 40, 50 or 60 clients. The result? A lot more familiarity. A sense of ownership returned because relationships became possible again.
We’ve come to see that, when it comes to our clients, those who care about the relationship like we do will take the time to explain their experience and give thoughtful feedback. Without a doubt, if our most loyal clients hadn’t shared their thoughts about our performance – and if we hadn’t been receptive to hearing it – we wouldn’t be successful today.
“People go further with people they know.” This is a refrain we’ve heard from a member of our TekTegrity Advisory Group (TAG), the advisory body built into our organizational structure to keep us close to clients’ needs. One of the best ways for people to get to know each other is during face time, especially beyond just problem-solving. When interactions are purely transactional (eg “I have a problem, I need help!”), the relationship doesn’t really grow.
That’s why periodic check-ins with clients, both formally and informally, are important to the relationship. We also host food truck events in our parking lot in SLO twice per year to give clients quality time with their technicians outside their immediate issues. Next year we plan to launch these food truck events in Fresno as well.
We are so grateful for our perceptive clients who have thoughtfully taken the time over the years to let us know how we can do our jobs better. We could not have gotten to where we are now without you – and we are ever thankful.
// Russ is a sought-after public speaker, technology expert, and community leader. As the CEO of an ever-growing managed services provider with offices in both San Luis Obispo and Fresno, Russ’s goal is to sustain and grow an IT company that provides incredible value for clients, and a great workplace for his team. When not charting out the future for TekTegrity, Russ serves on several non-profit boards, volunteers at the People’s Kitchen and travels the world with his wife and two daughters. More on Russ>>